Another Cool Aeronautics Event at RAF Halton

Jane Reilly  |  Published: Oct 17th 2017

As part of the RAF 100 celebration during this current 2017/18 academic year, RAF Halton has set an ambitious target of having 1000 years five and six primary school children attend their Cool Aeronautics STEM events. This involves increasing the number of children from the traditional 60 per event to 90!

The first event this academic year was held at RAF Halton on 12 October when 90 children from year six (10 and11yr olds) from Turnfurlong Junior School, Aylesbury took part.

Led by Project Leader, Bill McGrath, Trenchard Museum is working with the Royal Aeronautical Society to promote aerospace and aviation to a new generation under the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) umbrella. Cool Aeronautics events are free to attend and offer a fantastic opportunity for young people, the new generation  to meet inspirational people from across the industry and to engage with aerospace themed activities that are relevant to the current Key Skills 2 National Curriculum. 

The children were split into groups of 15 and each group was involved in six different activities during the all-day event.In one activity the children were briefed by pilots from the Halton Aero Club and Microlight Club on the principles of flight and given the opportunity to sit in a light aircraft as the pilot. Pilot, Phil Humphrey, said: The children were extremely animated being in such close proximity to an aircraft. They were full of questions after my brief.Four young Rolls-Royce STEM Ambassadors from Derby, under the leadership of David Alexander, lead the aluminium jet engine activity.The British Model Flying Association (BMFA) under the leadership of Jim Wright, lead the aircraft model making activity when the children made Aerojet models and then flew them.The volunteers of Trenchard Museum, RAF Halton also lead a number of other activities including the children flying a Chipmunk aircraft flight simulator, a Link trainer simulator, made in Aylesbury by Air Trainers Limited in the 1950s, and a briefing on aerodynamics. Trenchard Museum volunteer Brian Rogers was kept particularly busy by single-handedly ensuring that all 90 children had the opportunity to fly the Chipmunk Flight simulator!! The children also built aerodynamic wooden racing cars using a range of tools and then raced them, with euthustiatic support from several station personnel, in particular Flying Officer Georgina Snowdon-Brett, a trainee pilot, Flight Sergeant Len Brettell and a new Halton based STEM Ambassador Cpl Darren Culley. 

In another activity the children completed an electronic circuit and produced a Flying DisK, under the guidance of Trenchard Museum volunteers Geoff Brown and George Cook. Support was also provided by new volunteer Tanya Outfin, a teacher who has recently moved to the area and was attending her first Cool Aeronautics event. Invaluable support was also provided throughout the day by several Servicemen Awaiting Trade Training, SATTs.  

Bill McGrath said: A very hectic day for all concerned but the smile on the childrens faces throughout the day and as they were given their goody bags provided by the Royal Aeronautical Society at the end of the day, made it all worthwhile. The next Cool Aeronautics, STEM, events at Halton are planned for 23 November 17 (Hughenden Primary School) and 14 December 17 (Swanbourne CofE School)Polly Sargent, Teacher at Turnfurlong Junior School, said: I just wanted to say a massive thank you to you and your team for today. The feedback I got this afternoon from the staff and children who visited RAF Halton was that it was an excellent day and they absolutely loved the activities.I'm sure you'll be hearing more from them in time but I just wanted to pass on our gratitude and to say that I think you have all really inspired our children today.”

Cpl Darren Culley, one of the Station personnel who supervised, commented: The thing that sticks in my mind was when the children in my team demanded to put my name on their car as I was part of the team, followed by high fives and fist pumps. Another key memory was when I asked a group of girls if they fancied being an engineers or pilots when they leave school, the girls replied that girls cannot do these jobs to which I replied that girls can do anything and a female officer who was assisting was going to be a pilot. They were extremely impressed and their mind sets were changed.Every one of the children were keen and enthusiastic, the look of enjoyment on their faces was amazing, they were vocal and let their minds create some amazing cars. I love working with children who are keen and have minds like sponges and just want to try new things. It is the best thing I have engaged in during my 18 years in the RAF.The children asked loads of questions from whats it like to be in the RAF to how can we do this better, they love to ask questions and I love answering them.”

looking at an aircraft engine
learning about physics
working on a project together
group photo
aeronautics demonstration
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